3 legislators expect more than just bills

McGuire, Kapsner and Guess to give bipartisan birth during, after session

Posted: Monday, January 30, 2006

The stork is coming to the legislature. Three lawmakers are pregnant this session, with one due only weeks away.

Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, who is eight months pregnant, said she feels her baby kicking during committee meetings.

"It's a little bit disturbing at first," she said. "I notice if I'm doing a lot of talking or I'm excited about an issue I tend to feel it move."

McGuire calls herself a "rookie," compared to veteran legislature mommies Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel, and Sen. Gretchen Guess, D-Anchorage.

"Mary really broke ground for Gretchen and I," McGuire said.

This will be Kapsner's third child, which is due in late June.

"My timing is good on this one," she said. Her first, Conrad, was born two weeks before the general election when she ran for office in 1998. Kapsner's other child, Van, was born during May, the busiest month of the session when legislators finish their work.

Guess went through this last year when she had her daughter in February. This time around, hers will be in the oven through June.

"I'm more tired and I can't make it up by drinking a lot of caffeine," she said.

Guess catches up on her reading while lying on her office couch, or taking a break from gravity, as she calls it.

The life of a legislature can be endless waiting for action on a bill, or a milestone a minute as they zip through the schedule. McGuire said experts recommend the mother take naps and keep her feet up during the last weeks of the pregnancy.

"I giggle when I read these books because they don't at all apply to my life," she said.

What makes their lives a little easier is the help they receive from people in the building. McGuire's husband Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, is often seen near his wife carrying her books.

"It's a real comfort to me to know he's around the corner," she said.

Guess said Senate President Ben Stevens, R-Anchorage, is understanding of bathroom breaks during floor sessions when her baby rolls over onto her bladder.

"People are very nice to you when you are pregnant," McGuire said. "Even when people don't like your bills or they don't agree with your opinion, they're very delicate in how they present to you their opposition."

She's scheduled to have a cesarean section in Anchorage, and she will be bringing her child back to Juneau. Kapsner said babies are the easiest to care for during the first six months because they mostly eat and sleep.

McGuire said she is talking with Legislative Affairs and plans to talk to Juneau city officials and others about starting a day care center for legislators, their staff or others in the basement of the Terry Miller Building.

They all agree that young women in their child-rearing years should not exclude themselves from being in office in case they want to start a family. The thought of leaving the legislature to have their babies did not cross their minds, they said.

"The Legislature is a slice of life," Kapsner said.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauempire.com

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